Reiterating his call for speeding up reforms in education sector, Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar today said the pupil would be the focus of the reincarnated education policy of the Government to be put into practice across the State.
Reviewing the functioning of the education sector during his extensive tour of educational institutions and marathon meetings here, Mr Akhtar said as a part of the new initiatives to be employed in the education sector, the Village Education Committees (VEC) are being revived to make the functioning of the department more participatory and institutionalize accountability in schooling. “VECs will play key role in the development of localized education and school improvement plan and also monitor enrolment, retention, education of girl child and other disadvantaged groups, utilization of grants and constructions to attain the objective of Universal Elementary Education (UEE) in the State,” he said and added that while JK has adequate human and monetary resources for the development of the education sector, the only thing that is needed to bring a real turn-around in this crucial sector is the ‘will’ to make the things move.
Expressing dismay over hundreds of school building lying incomplete across the State, the Minister said that the Government’s priority would be to complete all such buildings in a time-bound manner and equip the same with adequate infrastructure to provide better facilities to the students.
Taking note of inadequate infrastructure some schools, the Minister on-the-spot announced Rs 5 lakh each for Government Girls Higher Secondary School Sopore and Government Boys High School Palhallan (Pattan) for furniture and laboratory facilities respectively.
Regarding rationalization of staff, the Minister said that instructions have been issued to all the Chief Education Officers (CEOs) to ensure proper pupil-teacher ratio in the schools under their jurisdiction. He said a pool of general line teachers at district level and that of lecturers and masters at State level will be created for after-school care of students. He said the Anganwari centres should work in close coordination with the local primary schools to improvise schooling.
The Minister directed the Chief Education Officer and Zonal Education Officers to pay regular visits to schools in their respective areas of jurisdiction to ensure proper monitoring.
Mr Akhtar said the extra-curricular activities would be reactivated in the schools so that the students can explore their own State. He said hiking, trekking and mountaineering clubs would be established in the schools for the purpose. He said in Baramulla, Sardar Balbir Singh, Principal Higher Secondary School Delina would be the nodal Principal for such activities.
Mr Akhtar also reviewed the functioning of the North campus of the Kashmir University located at Delina Baramulla. He asked the authorities to introduce job-oriented courses in hospitality, tourism management, non-conventional energy and food preservation so that the students after completing their degrees don’t add to the number of unemployed but become real entrepreneurs.
The Minister on this occasion announced that the local Delina School would be adopted by the North Campus and it would have a pedagogical connection with the institution.
Responding to the issues raised by the locals, the Minister said that the gutted heritage building of Higher Secondary School Baramulla would be restored immediately.
MLA Baramulla, Javed Hassan Beigh, MLA Gulmarg, Mohammad Abbas Wani and MLA Rafiabad, Yawar Dillawar Mir accompanied the Minister. MLA Uri, Muhammad Shafi conveyed the issues concerning his area in writing as he was out of station.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Peerzada Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, Director School Education Kashmir, Additional deputy Commissioner, SSP Baramulla,Superintending Engineers, Chief Education Officer Baramulla, Principals of Degree Colleges, CDPOs and other officers.
A delegation of Traders Federation Baramulla and local citizens forum also called on the Minister during his visit here and apprised him of the issues pertaining to the education sector. These included issues related to the infrastructure and lack of staff in colleges and schools.